Predictably bizarre Grasshopper Direct lampoons John Wick, offers no reveals, ends on the pause screen from the studio's next game

The Tokyo-based studio Grasshopper Manufacture is celebrating its 25th anniversary and as part of that has put on its first-ever Grasshopper Direct. As the name suggests, this was somewhat tongue-in-cheek rather than immaculate executives crisply clapping us through game reveals and new trailers. We got a couple of the studio's employees ad-libbing it, a quick highlights reel of the company's games, two pretty great fake adverts, and then the briefest of glimpses at the studio's upcoming game.

Whew! Grasshopper is certainly not your average studio. It was founded on March 30, 1998, in Suginami by Goichi Suda, better-known as Suda 51, and the name comes from a song by the UK band Ride: this is something of a theme, with later games like No More Heroes taking their titles from songs, and the studio's catchphrase for a time being "Punk's not dead". Its best-known titles include No More Heroes, Killer7, Let it Die, and the soon-to-be remastered Shadows of the Damned.

We got a little extra footage of the latter, which served to confirm that this is a polishing up job rather than any kind of ground-up remake, while the two 'adverts' interspersed in the Direct were designed to look like YouTube ads and confuse the viewer. The first, Pistol Yakuza, was a John Wick pisstake about a mob killer who goes on the rampage after someone kills his cat. The second was an aesthetically pleasing ad for Electric Thunder Tiger 14, another in-joke: Electric Thunder Tiger 2 is an in-universe videogame in Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes.

The Direct ended with the two Grasshopper staff interrupting Suda-51 as he played a videogame. The screen showed a night landscape with a cluster of trees, before Suda paused the game. The pause screen, among other things, included a blood meter and a blurred-out protagonist in the centre. There was also a meter for Emerald Flowsion (a wrestling move), two named weapons (Spazer & Brynhildr), ability slots, a timer, 15 item slots, and a photo mode.

Before this point the Direct showed off a specially commissioned piece of 25th anniversary art featuring Grasshopper protagonists, and the hosts remarked upon an 'unknown' character given some prominence by the artist.

Lest there be any doubt about what we're seeing here, Suda hammed it up. "Is this okay?" he said to the hosts in mock surprise. "Our next game is right here on-screen." Yeah, you could have shown a bit more of it mate. As it is, the game is clearly some sort of third-person action title which includes guns and an in-depth loot system, which aligns with what the studio's been making in recent years. Given the success of No More Heroes 3, and this being the studio's most successful series, you wouldn't bet against another outing for everyone's favourite otaku assassin.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."